Did you know that people ages 12 through 20 drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the U.S.? Thousands die yearly in car crashes, homicides, suicides and other alcohol-related incidents.

Did you know that about 50% of high school seniors do not think it’s harmful to try crack or cocaine once or twice? Or that 40% believe it’s not harmful to use heroin once or twice? Of course, you know that it only takes one time to get hooked or for something to go wrong.

Did you know that approximately 77% of students are victims of verbal bullying at some point?

These statistics raise some very important questions. One, whether you are a parent or an educator, what kind of influence are you having on the youngsters in your care? Two, what can you do to have a more positive influence?

What Kind of Example Are You Setting?

Do you abuse alcohol? Do you take illegal drugs? Do you abuse or overuse prescription medications? Is any of your behavior seen as bullying? You might answer a firm “no” to these questions, but is that enough? No.

Not setting a bad example doesn’t necessarily equate to setting a good one.

How to Be a Positive Influence

To be a force for good, take opportunities to emphasize good habits and behaviors. Make sure that kids have a clear understanding of right, wrong, and consequences. You don’t always need to formally teach. You can insert these things into conversation naturally and when appropriate.

What would be the result of doing this? Research suggests that teens who consistently learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t. The same effect can be had if parents consistently teach about alcohol and bullying too.

Then, the impact will be even greater when educators and authority figures reiterate the importance of these issues. More children will obey the law on alcohol and drink responsibly once they are of age. More children will steer clear of dangerous drugs of all sorts. More children will strive to treat everyone with kindness. They will likely also stand up for victims of bullying.

This would promote the safety of all and prevent the many sad situations that arise otherwise. Are you determined to use your position — no matter what it may be — to encourage kids to make wise choices?

Support Red Ribbon Week

There’s no better way to show your support than to get involved during Red Ribbon Week. How? There are many great ideas in the official planning guide for parents and teachers. For example, you might sport a ribbon or wristband to raise much-needed awareness.

But no matter how you choose to do your part, you’ll be helping young people to make the most of the life they have ahead of them!